Plans For New Agent Certification Program Announced At Inaugural Caribbean Travel Forum

During the inaugural Caribbean Travel Forum held at the Hilton Caribe in San Juan, Puerto Rico yesterday (Oct. 3), the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s president Nicola Madden-Greig outlined the vision for a new certified Caribbean Travel Advisor Program.

Building on the strength of the existing resort and destination specific travel agent certification programs that are already in place, Madden-Greig said the concept is to “take that to the next level and have certified Caribbean travel specialists who can sell the unique Caribbean experience but also all the destinations.”

The plan is to work alongside ministers of tourism, tourism boards as well as hotel associations to create a robust training program, which will also focus on Caribbean attributes beyond sun, sand and sea.

“Travel advisors, particularly those who specialize in geographical or experiential travel, are seeing a resurgence of importance to travellers,” Madden-Greig told PressToday. “More people are also looking at their ability to provide personalized services. As we emerged out of the worst of the pandemic, more travellers gravitated to travel advisors to seek advice on how to make their travel experience as seamless and safe as possible… There are so many more online travel options that people want more guidance from travel advisors, and their firsthand knowledge of travel and hospitality is invaluable.”

As part of the Caribbean Travel Forum, Kevin Hendrickson of the Courtleigh Hotel Group was named the recipient of this year’s Caribbean Hotelier of the Year award. Coming out of a challenging 2.5 years, Hendrickson took to the stage to highlight how the pandemic underscored the importance of tourism and what it means for the livelihoods of so many people across the region.

“I’m extremely happy to receive this award,” Hendrickson said, adding he was honoured to be part of an illustrious group of industry leaders to hold this accolade. “Cheers to tourism, cheers to the Caribbean — we’re on our way back!”

After an insightful day addressing topics like air connectivity, multi-destination marketing, sustainability, technology innovations and taxation, delegates headed to Distrito T-Mobile for the official opening celebration for Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

This is a special year for the CHTA as it marks the 60th anniversary for the association and the 40th Caribbean Travel Marketplace. More than 700 delegates from over 26 countries, including new buyers from Latvia, Poland, Mexico and India, are on location for the event.

Pictured at the Caribbean Travel Forum are:

  1. Vanessa Ledesma, CHTA’s acting CEO and director general, and CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig
  2. Kevin Hendrickson of the Courtleigh Hotel Group receiving the Caribbean Hotelier of the Year award from Adam Stewart, Sandals Resorts International
  3. Adam Stewart, chairman, Sandals Resorts International and president, Sandals Foundation; and Gebhard Rainer, chief executive officer, Sandals Resorts International

Stay tuned for more coverage in PressToday, Canadian Travel Press and Travel Courier.